Behavioral Threat Assessment & Management at a Glance


Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management (BTAM) is a form of violence risk assessment that assesses individuals who have threatened harm. 

In a school context, a multidisciplinary team works together to promote safety and prevent violence that may impact the school community.1

The process involves gathering information to assess the nature and seriousness of the threat and implementing interventions to reduce the risk that the threat will be carried out. 

Quick Facts – BTAM is:

  • Part of a comprehensive approach to school safety plans. 
  • A fact-based approach that is case specific. 
  • Early intervention. 
  • Violence prevention. 
  • Compassion-based and student-focused. 

Misunderstandings – BTAM is not:

  • Zero tolerance, leading to overly punitive or intensive interventions (i.e. suspension, law enforcement). 
  • A criminal investigation or conviction. 
  • A site survey, or security audit. 
  • Profiling based on traits or characteristics. 
  • Violence prediction. 

Did You Know:

  • When done appropriately, threat assessment can reduce the likelihood of violence.2
  • Threat assessment can improve the ability to address the mental and behavioral needs of students. A study of schools using the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) found that students receiving a threat assessment were more likely to receive counseling services and parent conferences.3
  • Threat assessment promotes more fair outcomes. A study of CSTAG showed that schools using threat assessment saw substantial reductions in the racial disparity in long-term suspension. Another study of CSTAG showed that students receiving special education services also did not receive disproportionately higher rates of school suspensions when threat assessment was used.4, 5


  • Carolyn Seiger (Instructional Designer, National Center for School Safety)
  • Allison Schreiber, MAIR (School Safety Specialist, National Center for School Safety)
  • Heather Murphy, MA, LPC, NCC (School Safety Specialist, National Center for School Safety)
  • Aysha Lonich, MEd, BCBA (School Safety Specialist, National Center for School Safety)
  • Sarah Mason, MPH (Research Assistant, National Center for School Safety)
  • Erin Wyatt (Marketing Communications Specialist, National Center for School Safety)


  1. Vossekuil, B., Fein, R. A., Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2002) Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States | Office of Justice Programs (No. 195287; p. 63). US Department of Education and United States Secret Service Safe School Initiative. implications
  2. National Threat Assessment Center. (2018). Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence | CISA. U. S. Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security.
  3. Cornell, D. G., Allen, K., & Fan, X. (2012). A randomized controlled study of the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines in kindergarten through grade 12. School Psychology Review, 41(1), 100-115.
  4. Cornell, D. G. & JustChildren. (2013). Prevention v. Punishment: Threat assessment, school suspensions, and racial disparities. University of Virginia
  5. Kaplan, S. G., & Cornell, D. G. (2005). Threats of violence by students in special education. Behavioral Disorders
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Topic Areas

Threat Assessment

Crisis Timeline

Prevention Planning


School Personnel, STOP Grantees

Toolkits & Guides